Here we explain how we make sure we manage the organisation properly.
And follow the rules for local governments.
The key legislation affecting all councils is the Local Government Act. The Local Government Act 2020 (the ‘Act’) came into operation in March 2020.
The new Act aims to improve democracy, accountability and service delivery. It introduced:
- a principles-based approach to ensuring good governance
- strong community engagement
The Act required all councils to adopt governance rules. These included the adoption by 1 September 2020 of:
- an Election Period Policy
- a Public Transparency Policy
- a Councillor Support and Expenses Policy.
We adopted these policies on 12 August 2020.
We were also required to adopt and maintain a Community Engagement Policy. We adopted this policy on 9 December 2020.
The third stage of the Act’s implementation required councils to:
- review and adopt a Councillor Code of Conduct within 4 months after a general election
- review and adopt a Councillor Gift Policy
- ensure all councillors complete induction training
- prepare and adopt a Budget and Revenue and Rating Plan by 30 June 2021.
We achieved these milestones.
Other new legislation that had an impact on our work during the year includes the Planning and Environment Amendment Act 2021. This made various amendments to the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
Audit and Risk Committee
Our Audit and Risk Committee is a key part of our governance. It strengthens our risk and financial management. It also ensures we keep improving how we work.
This committee meets 4 times a year. It has 4 independent members and 3 councillors.
You can read more about the committee, its members and what it does in our Major committees (PDF 122Kb). In this document, you can also find out more about all the issues discussed on this page.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives you a legal right to access certain council documents. You can read more about how you can access information through Freedom of Information (FOI) on our Freedom of information page.
In 2020-21, we received 29 FOI applications (down from 31 in 2019-20).
Other requests for information did not become FOI applications. This is because we were able to provide the information outside of the FOI process.
Responsible handling of personal information is a key part of good governance. We are committed to protecting every individual’s right to privacy.
You can request we correct inaccurate, incomplete or out of date personal information. Our Privacy Officer manages complaints about how we handle personal information. We will investigate your complaint and provide you with a response.
You can also complain to the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC). During 2020-21, there were 2 complaints referred to us by OVIC. Both complaints were resolved satisfactorily.
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 2012 supports people making disclosures that are in the public interest. It encourages and facilitates disclosures of improper conduct.
During the year, we received 1 disclosure. Whistleblowers can contact our Public Interest Disclosures Coordinator on 9240 1111.
Governance and management checklist
This lists all the policies and guidelines that help us with the governance of the organisation. The checklist says what the policies and guidelines do and when they were last reviewed.
You can download our Governance and management checklist for 2020-21 (PDF 260Kb) to find out more.
We were not the subject of any Victorian or Federal Government investigations during 2019-20.
We are committed to open and transparent governance. You can inspect the following documents at the Coburg Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg*:
- details of councillor or staff travel
- agendas and minutes of ordinary and special meetings held during the year, also available on our Council meeting minutes and past agendas page
- register of delegations
- details of all leases involving land which were entered into by Merri-bek Council as lessor
- a register of authorised officers
- donations and grants made by Merri-bek Council in the previous 12 months.
*May be closed due to public health restrictions.
You can contact us to find out more using the details on our Contact us page.
Commitment to human rights
We are committed to upholding the basic rights and freedoms of all Victorians. These are set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
It requires governments, councils and other public authorities consider human rights when they:
- make laws
- develop policies
- provide services.
We consulted our Human Rights Advisory Committee and its working groups on over 15 policies, strategies and plans in 2020-21. We also held 8 cultural consultations with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.
Infrastructure and development contributions
We must report to the Minister for Planning on development contributions. You can download the Report of the full development contributions for 2020-21 (PDF 204Kb) to find out more.